Modern lighting 101 - LightsOnline.comWhat exactly defines modern lighting often varies from person to person, but there are a few general tenets that many people can agree on: clean lines, simplicity, functionality, innovation and often the use of chrome or other metals. Of course, modern design is sometimes all about breaking the rules. Some modern lighting looks more like a sculpture and has many different intricate elements. Some modern lighting breaks the fixture down to little more than the very basic pieces: base, stem, bulb. Some modern lighting is monochromatic while other fixtures are explosions of color.

Modern design actually harkens all the way back to the 1930s, to the times of Frank Lloyd Wright and his guiding philosophy of form follows function. However, modern is an enduring style of décor and is still very popular all these years later because of those above tenets, especially the idea of innovation. If you’re thinking of adding modern lighting fixtures to your home, they will fit in well if much of your décor is already clean and contemporary. You can also find modern lights to suit any illumination need you have, big or small!

Look for these features when you're planning lighting for your modern or contemporary home and you're on your way to achieving an up-to-the-minute look!

  • Clean, simple lines. A lot of modern indoor lighting tends to be minimalist in appearance. Think uncluttered, streamlined and versatile: the bulbs, the base and not much else.
  • Abstract or asymmetrical silhouettes. Some of today's bolder lighting designs are, in essence, contemporary sculptures with a practical use. These pieces contain intriguing, bold elements often seen in modern art. 
  • Unique splashes of color. Specialty art glass is very popular in contemporary indoor lighting, particularly in mini pendant and bath light designs. Many of these glass pieces are hand-crafted so each piece looks slightly different.
  • Chrome, nickel or silver finishes. These sleek finishes work particularly well with stainless appliances or fixtures. Lighting with brushed silver or nickel finishes will offer a seamless look! In modern bathrooms, match the finish of your lights to the finish of your hardware (faucet, drawer handles and so on).

Ceiling Lights 

Sure, you can get modern ceiling lights that are basically naught but bulbs inside a simple glass dome. Those could be perfect for your room. But modern ceiling lights also include ones that are studded with ‘bling,’ remixes of the chandelier, gold puffs of aluminum, collections of orbs shaped like molecules and more! For flush or semi-flush applications, modern ceiling lights provide a great source of ambient light.


Many modern chandeliers are typified by clean lines and the use of metals, but they tend to look at least somewhat similar to their more traditional brethren. However, some of them break the rules and create innovative new silhouettes.


Modern pendant lights are available in all sizes and shapes. Many of them make the light bulbs a central part of the fixture. Elk Lighting and Access Lighting offers a huge variety of colorful modern pendants to suit a contemporary space. Then there’s the subset of modern pendants that are thoroughly inventive, much like their chandelier cousins.


Modern wall sconces are a great way to boost up the lighting in a room and keep the décor theme going. Simplicity reigns when it comes to many modern sconces: a metallic finish, a bulb in glass and that is it. But if you want some more ornate and decorative modern sconces, check out the offerings from ET2 or Elan.


Modern lamps make the perfect addition to a room in need of more accent or task lighting. You can choose from a huge variety of modern style lamps--artful, colorful, sleek, streamlined, you name it!

Modern Brands 

If modern design style speaks to you, some brands to look for in lighting include Access Lighting, Alico, EGLO, Elan, ET2, Fredrick Ramond, George Kovacs, Sonneman, Trend Lighting, Varaluz and WAC, although many other brands also offer some modern styles as well. If you need more help finding your new favorite modern piece, call 1-866-688-3562 to speak to our trained lighting specialists!


Emma Harger - Lights Online